Page images

it; he went there for a few days to give orders about some repairs, and Ellen and her son remained in London. On Montalva's return to town, he went immediately to her house. What was his astonishment to find it shut up, and to learn in the neighbourhood that she had left it some days back. "Where was she gone?" he impatiently asked the person who informed him of her departure, but the woman could not tell him. Miss (or as she was called Mrs.) Dudley had discharged her servants, and departed with her son in a : post-chaise, but what road they took: no one could tell. Montalva drove immediately to the hotel that he frequented when in London, in the hope of finding there some explanation of this strange step; it was indeed explained by the following packet, which awaited: his arrival.



"By the time you receive this, my lord, I shall be many miles distant from London, nor shall we, I hope, ever meet again.

"I have been guilty of a cruel and infamous deception, for which I am at length punished, and for which my conscience has a thousand times reproached me; a deception which you can never pardon, but which I am compelled to reveal to you. In a short time after I had reason to suppose myself deserted, I feared that I was with child. Oh what words can paint the horrors. of my mind. Destitute as I was, I

might, by some honest means, have. gained a subsistence; but if my fears were true, how was I to provide for my infant? how was I to obtain a sufficient, sum even to defray the expences of a certain time? for a moment the idea. of suicide presented itself. It will be mercy, thought I, to the unborn wretch, to take it from a world where I myself. have met with none! Yet when I reflected upon the double crime I was.: about to commit, I shrunk with hor-ror from my.. dreadful Youpurpose. had made me the most liberal proposals, which I had, as you know, rejected; for however distressed, however forlorn I might be, I was far above being bribed i into the prostitution of my person; that was, as I conceived, the lowest state of degradation to which any human being could fall, and it was one that I was determined never to submit to. In the first moments of despair, I chanced to meet with your letter, which I had thrown carelessly into a drawer;


those proposals which I had thought so little of, when they were made, now struck me as affording a means of providing for the infant; yet I call Heaven to witness, that at that time I had no thought of imposing it upon you as yours. I had indeed no settled plan; but I was destitute of every means to support myself or the fruit of my indiscretion, and I hastily resolved to accept your lordship's offer.

"When I had done so, I hoped that you would perform your promise of rendering me independant; but you seemed to have forgotten it; and tho you were liberal to excess, I knew not how long your liberality would continue. A hundred times the acknowledgment of my situation was upon my lips, and as often did the coldness, I may say, sternness of your manners repress it. In a short time I saw, or fancied I saw, that you were becoming indifferent to me; want and desertion again stared me in the face, and inspired the

idea of the deception which I so successfully practised; I do not ask your forgiveness, my lord, for I feel that I deserve it not.

"The pleasure that you expressed when you learned my situation; the attentions that you paid me, and your doating fondness for my boy, whom, at your desire, I named after yourself, were bitter stings to my heart; but the die was cast, and to confess the truth could now be attended only with ruin to myself. I endeavoured to make my mind easy, by the reflection that I heard you say, you had no near relations to inherit your fortune, and that a deception which was so materially serviceable to me and my babe, was not an actual injury to any one else. This sophistry had not, however, the effect of quieting my mind; and I can truly say, that I never saw you caress the child without uneasiness.

"But deception, sooner or latter, meets with that punishment which is its

« PreviousContinue »